Deb Berman: Still Swingin’

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Deb Berman

Still Swingin’

Pangea, NYC, October 30, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Deb Berman
Drawing: Lynn DiMenna

Proudly announcing that she had recently received her first Social Security check (which went toward financing this show), glamorous Deb Berman came out swinging to celebrate her life and the music she loves. Armed with a great and caustic sense of humor, the skills of a great storyteller, and the joy of a husky jazz vocalist, Berman captivated the packed house. And she even handed out business cards related to her real estate business, which may be a first, and a very good reason for her to sing “On the Sunny Side of the Street” with some freshly minted lyrics of her own.

Backed by a great band consisting of music director/pianist Gregory Toroian, bassist Tom Hubbard, and drummer Vito Lesczak, and under the direction of Geoff Stoner, the show as framed as a memoir of Berman’s life, with patter that was specific and to the point. Her childhood musical fascination was reflected in a wonderfully acted “(If I Had) Rhythm in My Nursery Rhymes” outfitted with special lyrics written by the diva.
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She finds the personal meanings in “Another Hundred People” among its shifting rhythms.

Other highlights included a tender salute to her son with “Make You Feel My Love” (Bob Dylan) and a perfectly interpreted “Life Story” (Richard Maltby, Jr./David Shire). And she wrapped up a delightful evening with a terrific arrangement of “Sing, Sing, Sing.
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” It was a night that clearly embodied this star’s great spirit, high humor, and tender emotions.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."